House being built by the river

About 9,000 acres of the McKenzie Watershed are in residential use. Residents, particularly those who live adjacent to the river or a tributary, have an important role to play in the stewardship of the McKenzie Watershed and maintaining excellent water quality.

Potential threats

Development can potentially threaten water quality due to:

  • Use of pesticides and fertilizers
  • Contamination from septic systems
  • Increased erosion and sediment from construction activities
  • Removal of native streamside vegetation

Flood events can damage or wash away structures in the floodplain, potentially releasing household chemicals, hazardous materials or untreated sewage into nearby water bodies. This not only threatens the water supply and poses health and safety risks, but can also be very costly for individuals and communities.

See historical development patterns in the McKenzie River Basin from 1870-2007

Programs to mitigate threats

EWEB recognizes that there are a number of ways in which to mitigate for these threats to water quality, and to public health and safety. We have several initiatives designed to help residents protect water quality.

Development studies

EWEB conducted land use code studies to better understand the potential impacts of development in the watershed. See a summary of the developments studies and access complete reports.

Septic System Assistance program

EWEB received grant funding to help educate residents about the potential threats from septic systems, and to conduct water quality monitoring and offer free septic system inspections. Current programs include a zero-interest loan program and cost-share program for septic system maintenance.

Sustainable landscaping classes

Read about classes designed to help residents learn more about what they can do on their own property to take care of the river.

Voluntary Incentives program

Learn about a new program EWEB is developing that will reward rural landowners who maintain high quality land along the river, helping to protect water quality in the McKenzie Watershed and avoid increased water treatment costs for drinking water customers.

Conservation easements

EWEB works closely with the McKenzie River Trust to help protect habitat in the McKenzie Watershed through land acquisitions and conservation easements.


Email us for more information, or call Nancy Toth at 541-685-7438 or Karl Morgenstern at 541-685-7365.